Hundreds of drivers, including a US senator, were stranded overnight in the freezing cold on a Virginia highway after a severe snowstorm battered the region Monday.
A 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 came to a standstill in both directions Monday afternoon when six tractor-trailers were involved in an accident — and it became impossible to move them as several inches of snow and ice accumulated.
No one was injured in the collision but it left hundreds of motorists stuck in frigid temps on the major US highway for “extraordinary” amounts of time, Virginia Department of Transportation engineer Marcie Parker said in a statement.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who lives in Richmond, tweeted Tuesday morning that he was among those stranded.
“I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday,” Kaine tweeted early Tuesday. “19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol.”
Kaine said his office is communicating with VDOT officials in an effort to assist other stranded drivers.
Another stranded driver, Susan Phalen, told CNN she and her four dogs were still stuck in her car on I-95 south of Stafford early Tuesday after leaving her Fredericksburg home at 8 p.m. Monday for a trip that usually takes an hour.
“This [is] one for the record books,” Phalen told CNN. “I could have walked there faster.”
State and local emergency crews were still working desperately early Tuesday to clear disabled vehicles and rescue the stranded drivers between exit 104 in Ruther Glen and exit 152 in Dumfries.
Between 7 and 11 inches of snow was dumped in the area during Monday’s blizzard, according to the National Weather Service.
“This is unprecedented, and we continue to steadily move stopped trucks to make progress toward restoring lanes,” Virginia Department of Transportation engineer Marcie Parker said in a statement Tuesday.
Many primary and secondary roads in the region were still snow-covered Tuesday or blocked by downed trees.
Motorists are being warned to avoid I-95 in the area until the lanes are reopened and significant backups are cleared.
“Even as travel lanes reopen, additional time will be needed to assist motorists who have been stopped for extended periods on I-95 overnight, and in some cases since Monday morning,” Virginia Department of Transportation officials said.
Officials said late Monday crews would work nonstop until all state roadways were safe for travel.
“We wish we had a timetable, ETA or an educated guess on when travel will resume on I-95,” the agency tweeted with a photo of what appeared to be hundreds of stranded vehicles. “It’s at a standstill in our area with multiple incidents. Its frustrating & scary.”
With Post wires